The rumors were flying all over the internet these past few days with the question posed in the title above. It sounds pretty certain that FOX, at the very least, has been talking to Howard Stern about filling the seat that will be vacated by Simon Cowell on American Idol after this current season. Other reports say that the seat HAS been offered to him and the ball is in Stern’s court as to whether he wants the job or not, if he hasn’t rejected the deal already.
In Stern’s own words, without naming names:
“I was approached by a major TV network to take over a TV show and leave here and do that next year — and I did turn it down … I’m not even sure if I want to be working. I’m waiting to see what happens,”
If you scrolled down and read the comment section of any of the hundreds of articles reporting the Stern/Cowell news, you’d find that rumors are getting a mixed reaction from all audiences. Dedicated A.I. fans seemed to have a unified opinion… “I’m never watching that show again with that ass Stern on it”, while Stern fans were split between “He’s a sellout if he takes the job” and “I’d finally watch that dumb show if Howard were a judge.”
Immediately following most of the “I’ll never watch again” comments were “What does Stern know about music?” You’re right, what would a guy who has spent 35 years in RADIO know about the music industry compared to, let’s say… a former cheerleader or a stand-up comedienne with a talk show? Besides, Stern had musical acts on his show being judged by record studio execs long before American Idol was a gleam in someone’s eye.
And let’s not fool anyone here… those threatening to never watch again are not going to miss one second of “Idol”. Who are you trying to convince with your threats, ladies? FOX or yourselves? Stern knows how to play to his audience. After watching one episode with him as judge the common opinion will be “Hey, he wasn’t as bad as I thought he’d be”. After one season, I guarantee the fans would love the guy. Do you actually think he’d judge a contestant by saying things like “Your song was bad, now take off your top” as strippers and lesbians massage his shoulders? No, Howard is a perfectionist and would take the job very seriously and put in the time needed to excel at it. You would be pleasantly surprised at the job Stern would do. In fact, I think he would be tamer and less insulting to the contestants than Simon is.
I don’t think the question is whether or not FOX wants Stern on American Idol, it’s if Stern WANTS to be on A.I. or not. FOX would hire him in a heartbeat. Stern accepting the offer is the only variable. As mentioned above, Idol fans will watch no matter what, they can’t help themselves. If Osama Bin Laden were a judge, they’d still watch. Stern would bring his fanbase over to the party and A.I. would absolutely shatter viewer ratings. It’s a no-brainer decision by FOX.
Furthermore, if American Idol was taped in New York, this would be a done deal already. Stern makes no bones about his disdain for flying, especially across country. He was offered an opportunity that almost anyone would jump at… the guest seat on Conan O’Brien’s final Tonight Show episode, and Stern turned it down. That show would have given him a national audience where he could have taken uncontested shots at Jay Leno, a guy who has stolen staff and comedy bits directly from Stern’s show. Why did he pass the opportunity up? He made it perfectly clear on his radio show that he did not want to fly to Los Angeles.
Now multiply that by however many weeks American Idol runs. If you listen to Stern, as I have for almost 18 years, you’ll know that he’ll convince himself that if he flies that many times in one year, one of those planes will most definitely crash.
We’ll see how this story progresses. I don’t think there will be a decision anytime soon, as Stern will probably be fielding many offers, and playing many contract games, as he is in the final year of his $500 million satellite deal. If he appears as a “guest judge” one week, you know Fox is laying the ground work in preparing the audience for his introduction as a regular judge next season.
And after that appearance those who hate Stern will say, “Hey, he wasn’t all that bad”, and accept him onto the show… and FOX’s mission will be accomplished.